Do you also find that Zen Buddhist thought holds some fascinating insights that are relevant to the modern age?
You don’t need to be a practicing Buddhist to benefit from many of these insights.
One Zen Buddhist master we’ve written about many times is Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist who lived his life in exile in France before recently being given permission to visit Vietnam again.
Thich Nhat Hanh shares his wisdom with special clarity and poetic flair.
In this article we’ve put together ten of his most profound quotes, ending with what Thich Nhat Hanh says is the secret to Buddhism.
Dwell in the present moment
The step to achieving enlightenment is to calm yourself, connect with your breath and dwell in the present moment with the knowledge that this is all there is.
For more on living the moment, see 21 Mindfulness Quotes That Will Inspire You to Live the Moment. For an alternative perspective, see Why Living the Moment Was the Most Terrible Advice of 2016.
In this moment, every action is one of reverence
We always have a choice with how we act in the present moment. We can let go and lose ourselves in our imagination, or connect with everything happening around us.
This article is aligned with the perspective of Thich Nhat Hanh on embracing the here and now: 10 Quotes That Will Inspire You To Live In A Moment And Make Every Second Count.
Find the magic in the present moment
Go for a walk and connect with nature, with the wind and trees and the ocean. If you’re in a city, admire the bustling people all around you. Notice the smells. Feel the energy of the city.
On Ideapod, we have a shaman sharing ideas and who advocates living mindfully in the moment. His name is Ruda Iande and you can connect with him by responding to his ideas.
When someone makes you suffer, offer compassion
This is a profound perspective about finding the other inside yourself. We are all just an extension of the big bang originally, coming from the same atom that split and started expanding. When you let go of prevailing ideas about time and space, you can feel the connection between everyone and everything.
In this way, the suffering of someone else deserves your compassion rather than frustration.
Don’t let your suffering stop you from being happy
If the suffering inside you is strong, this is an opportunity to embrace your suffering in order to find your happiness. Here’s an article with more on this perspective: A Zen Master Reveals How Embracing Pain Opens the Door to Joy
Freedom is the condition for happiness
This is a profound maxim for letting go. This is what provides the space for us to feel freedom. When we cling onto anger, anxiety or possessions then there’s no space for freedom to emerge.
Here’s a great article on on destroying the ego, helping you to achieve freedom: A Spiritual Master Reveals How to Destroy Your Ego in Three Simple Steps
Keep your body happy to express gratitude to the cosmos
This is a profound idea reminding you of the importance of looking after yourself. If you’re connected to the whole cosmos, then it makes sense that the part you can control should be as healthy as you’re able to make it.
There’s a wonderful Ideapod community member who shares many ideas on living a healthy live: Dr. Rhea.
The source of love is within you
We’ve written a lot about love lately here at The Power of Ideas. The key insight we’ve continually come across is that love begins from loving oneself. When you truly love yourself, then that love can be shared freely with others.
See this article where Osho shares this idea very eloquently: Incredibly Rare Video Footage Of Buddhist Master Revealing the Secret of Love. Also see the many ideas on Ideapod about love.
Think for yourself
This is a beautiful perspective about how we often think from comparison rather than first principles. Rather than always reacting all of the time, it’s better to search within for the truth that makes sense to you.
Elon Musk thinks from first principles, and you can watch a video of him talking about it here (it’s towards the end of the video): How Elon Musk Learns Faster and Better Than Everyone Else
The secret is to remove all ideas and concepts
Finally we’ve arrived at a key insight from Thich Nhat Hanh. The secret of Buddhism is to let go of all of your ideas and concepts in order for the truth to emerge and reveal itself.
What does this mean about the nature of truth? Where do ideas come from? When we clear our minds, why does inspiration usually strike?
Thanks for sticking with us through this brief guide to the thought of Thich Nhat Hanh. If you still have questions and want explore the nature of ideas and where they come from, join us at Ideapod, a social network for idea sharing.